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Lunchtime Links: Are investment banks a brake on social mobility?

Following yesterday’s Cabinet Office report on ‘Fair Access to the Professions,’ we’ve been pondering whether investment banks are doing their bit to grease the rusty-looking cogs of social mobility in the UK.

The answer appears to be equivocal. The report’s main criticism is that the privately educated have unfair access to the professions, an area in which banks’ record is (superficially) mixed. On one hand you have the likes of Roger Jenkins (possibly the highest earner at BarCap until he announced his resignation this week), who was privately educated at Edinburgh Academy. On the other, you have Lloyd Blankfein, who grew up on a Brooklyn council estate.

The report doesn’t break out the percentage of bankers who are privately educated, but does state that 70% of finance directors were. Interestingly, however, LinkedIn, suggests banks are more interested in employees’ universities than their schooling. A search for Eton and Winchester College in the investment banking section yields only 24 and 17 results respectively. A search for Oxford and Cambridge yields 1,077 and 928.

‘Honest’ Morgan Stanley posts gigantic loss. (Clusterstock)

BofA Merrill Lynch has hired 100 investment bankers so far this year. (Financial News)

UBS loses veteran fixed income strategist to mystery fund. (Bloomberg)

HSBC’s chief global equity strategist has mysteriously resigned. (Bloomberg)

Christine Lagarde really doesn’t like guaranteed bonuses and thinks they’re an “absolute disgrace.” (Financial Times)

Some investment bankers at RBS have seen their salaries rise 300%. (The Times)

Jamie Dimon made $2.3m selling options. (Reuters)

They’re just taking the spread between the bid and the ask and they are making very luxurious returns.” (Financial Times)

Bankers can’t afford to play at being farmers any more. (Guardian)

Only another five years before UK income per head hits 2008 levels. (Guardian)

Comments (10)

  1. Blankfein may have grown up on a council estate, but he still studied at Harvard. So it seems, university still plays a major factor.

  2. Is Lloyd Blankfein the new Goldman Sachs?

  3. I’m being a pedant but your Linkedin figures are skewed by the fact that most people list their uni but very few list their school. May I use you as an example Sarah?!

  4. Cue: that is the difference between American institutions (banks, HFs etc) and the British ones. The brits seem to be trapped in the illusion that elitism is the way forward. American banks recruit solely on merit – in the states that is. Over here, the brits running the HR of the American banks apply the elitism principle in “doling” out places.

    Mr. Frank White Reply
  5. Being foreigner (non-English native speaker) and having arrived in the City only a few years ago I am still amazed at the chances I’ve been given. I’ve climbed my way up to a senior position in a few years. I wouldn’t have dreamt of it in my own country where I would need many years to break the system. When I read about people suing City firms on the terms gender/racial discrimination I cannot help just getting mad. Ok, I am white and male but based on personal experience I find it hard to believe there’s any kind of discrimination based on social background!!

  6. Bill – can you please go home and free up some space for us locals.

  7. It’s ‘brake’, not ‘break’, as in ‘Are investment banks a ‘brake’ on social mobility’, i.e. do they slow it down, or constrain it.

    Editor should brush up on his/her editorial skills…

  8. i agree with Bill. white female here..same. nobody really cares where you are from as long as you good. but ticked the box going to a uni on the IB list.

    and to unemployed: well, there must be a good reason why the majority of the employees in financial services in London are foreign. can you think why?

    offshore material Reply
  9. As a headhunter I see a mixed picture.
    It’s clear that state schools produce people with an inferior education (and yes I sent to the state). they also channel kids into dead end subjects like Media Studies, though to be fair private schools waste kids talent on crap like French and other languages.

    Few of my clients care what school you went to, though I did have to counsel on Eton alumnus to tone down his accent a bit :)
    They do care about the ability to express yourself, and state schools are poor at this.
    My kids go private. Their teachers are qualified to teach sciences, something that is hardly the norm in state schools where most maths and physics teachers are wholly unqualified to teach anything, let alone science.
    Many British universities have low standards and give up on “hard” subjects, my own (Queen Mary) now boast of “excellence” in dance, and could not be bothered to teach Chemistry any more.
    Since the quality of university you go to correlates strongly with school, this matters a lot.

    Dominic Connor, Headhunter Reply
  10. bill & offshore material make valid points. australia’s IB scene, for example, is FAR more exclusionary/faux-elitist than the uk’s. i was repeatedly told by indignant HR people that “we ONLY hire from 3 universities in sydney and 2 in melbourne”.

    “amusingly” these unis (apart from RMIT) offer noticeably poorer education than the best aussie unis.

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